The UK’s first ‘electric airline’ is being planned by green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince.
Ecojet hopes to start operations next year with a 19-seat aircraft flying between Edinburgh and Southampton.
The aircraft will run initially on kerosene-based fuel for the first year, before being retrofitted with engines that convert green hydrogen into electricity and offer a range of 300 miles, the Guardian reported.
Vince, the founder of green energy company Ecotricity, hopes to expand the number of routes out to cover all of the country’s big cities.
A second phase, 18 months later, will result in 70-seater aircraft capable of flying to Europe being introduced, with long-haul flights planned for the future, according to the company.
Ecojet will begin with two different sizes of turboprop aircraft – a 19-seat and a 70-seat aircraft.
They will be retrofitted with the hydrogen-electric power trains as soon they become approved for service by the CAA – the first retrofits will take place in 2025, one year after the commencement of flights.
Ecojet claims to be 10 years ahead of the rest of the industry in the development of what Vince described as “the biggest revolution in the aviation industry since the invention of the jet engine”.
He said: “The question of how to create sustainable air travel has plagued the green movement for decades, Ecojet is by far the most significant step towards a solution to date.
“The desire to travel is deeply etched into the human spirit, and flights free of C02 emissions, powered by renewable energy will allow us to explore our incredible world without harming it for the first time.”
Staff will wear environmentally friendly uniforms, and serve plant-based meals.
The company is in the process of applying for a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority and securing take-off and landing slots at airports.
Vince admitted he was not entirely happy with starting the project by burning fossil fuels but said that the airline needed to launch quickly to secure aircraft and landing slots and “keep up the momentum” of the project.
The told the newspaper: “It does feel like a contradiction but at the heart of this project is upcycling existing planes and retrofitting them.
“This is the pragmatic approach, which means we won’t lose time. We will build up the infrastructure, get the planes in the air and swap in the engines when they are available.”
Vince said Ecojet would “price match” existing airlines on air fares and was intended to attract a mass market, beyond environment-conscious consumers. He said he would invest £1 million initially but plans to raise further funds next year.
“We want to prove that one of the last frontiers [of decarbonisation] can be broken and that it’s not insolvable,” he said.
“A lot of people seem to think that people who are eco-conscious want everyone to live a life of self-denial in a cave. Green living is not about giving things up – everything we like to have in this life can be done in a net zero life.”